Given what’s happened with the Phillies and MLB the past 24 hours, the question was bound to come up.
In a Zoom call with Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher on Monday, media wanted to know how comfortable he and his team feel in Toronto’s “bubble’’ conditions for the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs.
Fletcher responded with an answer that pretty much goes along with the uncertainty of the times: He recognizes the NHL is doing the best it can to keep its players safe during the COVID-19 pandemic but there are no guarantees.
The Flyers have been told to be especially cautious the first five days in Canada.
With the first and only preseason game (with Pittsburgh) coming on Tuesday, it’s safe to figure the Flyers players are keeping a rather low profile.
Let’s just say there’s going to be a lot of video games playing and television watching the next few days.
“Everything’s worked like clockwork,’’ Fletcher said. “It’s been a great experience here so far, amazing that the NHL and the union could put this together on short notice.
“And its only going to get more efficient.’’
That said, people still wonder if the players can stay disciplined and make smart decisions.
“Certainly for my life, these are unprecedented times,’’ Fletcher said. “You know you can do all the right things and still contract the virus. It’s highly contagious, it’s everywhere. I think what we’ve done with the expertise of the NHL and NHLPA, plus disease doctors. . .we’ve done our best effort to educate players about what you do and what you don’t do.
“Really, when you look at Phase 2 and Phase 3, we kept a bubble at the rink (Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J.) but our players and staff go home and we were able to get through that mostly unscathed. Now we’re here in the bubble where I’d like to think if we all make good decisions, I’d like to think we’re good. I know everyone is doing their best to make sure we can pull this off.’’
The NHL pointed out 800 players were tested between July 18-25 and not of them came back positive.
Head coach Alain Vigneault said the players seem to be adapting well to their new surroundings, although there’s still a long way to go.
“Basically we’ve done what people have told us,’’ he said. “It’s run real smoothly so far. This is new for everyone in society. It’s all different, we’re trying to do our part. Trying to stay safe, follow the guidelines.
“At the end of the day, a lot of people have worked together to give us a chance to play.’’
Fletcher said he expects to have left wing Oskar Lindblom back with the team shortly. The young Swede, who’s completed treatments for Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, has been back home in Europe visiting family the past 10 days.
“He’s continued to rest and recover from the last of his treatments,’’ Fletcher said. “He’s doing well. We told him we would speak to him once we got to Toronto and get a plan for him to come back.’’
Lindblom is expected to play at some point in the playoffs.
>Why Twarynski was left off roster
One of the surprises of the final roster cut was the exclusion of promising rookie Carsen Twarynski, who played 15 games for the Flyers this past season.
“It just came down to numbers,’’ Fletcher said. “Carsen played really well all year. As a group, we decided we were going to bring four goaltenders into the bubble and we wanted to bring Oskar as well.
“We took what we felt were the best 16 forwards, the best 10 defensemen. Those are the decisions that we made and I guess it’s a testament to our depth.’’